LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Launches on 6/28/16

A long time ago, on a generation of gaming platforms far, far away, Traveller’s Tales developed a new type of LEGO video game which took the six Star Wars movies and reimagined them in a more satirical format. The games appealed to fans of Star Wars young and old, and were met with great success, spawning an ongoing line of similarly-styled LEGO video games for years to come.

Another LEGO Star Wars game would come in 2011, based on The Clone Wars. Following that, however, it was as if millions of fans’ voices suddenly cried out for more and were suddenly silenced.

Until now.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens launches on Tuesday, June 28th, 2016 for just about every current platform under the sun: Wii U, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo 3DS, Steam for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and even the PlayStation Vita will soon feel the power of the Force.

As the title implies, the game is based on the recent seventh episode in the popular film series, the first to come under the stewardship of the franchise’s new masters at Disney. More than just the film’s events will be covered, as untold tales building up to what you saw on the big screen will play out as well. What’s more, key members of the film’s cast such as John Boyega (Finn), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), and more have lent their talents to the game, providing new and original dialogue to enjoy.

Oh, and you can also play as BB-8:

A demo is available to download now as well.

To help build anticipation for the launch, publisher Warner Bros. Interactive invited members of the press out to the Rogers Centre in Toronto, where demos of the closely-guarded game could be played on regular televisions as well as the enormous Rogers Centre video board — a feature which Toronto Blue Jays pitcher and Star Wars fan R.A. Dickey took advantage of as he played alongside Emile Burbidge, the newest Chief Play Officer for Toys “R” Us Canada.

Their appearance at the event made sense; Burbidge for the obvious reasons, while Dickey helped represent the marketing push that Warner Bros. Interactive would be making at the stadium with signage around the field, including behind the home plate. The company stated that this was going to be one of their biggest releases of the year, and are quite intent on making sure people are fully aware of it.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Microsoft Game Studios and Mojang have announced a new update coming to the console versions of Minecraft.

Sometime in June (the date hasn’t been revealed yet), the first of several free mini-game updates will be released, allowing for the quick and easy participation in competitions featuring tailor-made rule sets. The initial mode is called “Battle,” where players will seek out randomly generated resources found inside chests to fight one-another across specially-designed Player Versus Player (PVP) maps, and the last one standing will be declared the victor. In the meantime, those who are defeated along the way can still spectate by flying around the arena as a bat.

Up to four players can compete in the split-screen mode, while eight can throw down on Xbox Live. If you need more people to rumble, then an in-game matchmaking system will allow you to find other members of the community to join in.

Three maps will be included in the initial release, with additional maps being released for $2.99.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, along with TT Games, The LEGO Group, and Marvel Entertainment, have all announced that the latest in their series of LEGO-based video games — LEGO Marvel’s Avengers — is now available for the Wii U, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, and Windows PC. There may also be a version running on Iron Man’s latest armor, but that remains unconfirmed.

Encompassing the storylines of Marvel’s namesake movie release The Avengers and its sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers also features content from other Marvel Cinematic Universe releases such as Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, each one now presented with a more humorous take befitting a younger audience and the LEGO brand, as seen in the video above. Throughout the adventures, you’ll take control of over 200 characters (many of which will need to be unlocked, mind), more than 100 of which are new to the LEGO video game world. Plus, the core Avenger team line-up of Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man will have a variety of special team moves that they can pull off in tandem.

Rated “E10+” for everyone age 10 and older, you can get it now for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for a $69.99 suggested retail price, while the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U versions go for $59.99, with the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita versions priced at $34.99. For whatever reason, Windows PC wasn’t included in the pricing list.

The home console versions also have a “Season Pass” that includes content packs including Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Masters of Evil. You can get these and the main game for the same price on Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4, or on any of the home console/PC versions for $9.99. Another downloadable content pack is available free for a limited time to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 owners, featuring content based on Ant Man (this Spring) and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War (available now).

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Several months ago, I wrote a fairly thorough article on PoisonMushroom.Org about why Warner Bros. should join the whole interactive toys/video games business, and as I was finally writing that piece… well, they did just that (even the vehicles!). Only not in quite the way I was expecting them to.

Rather than simply banking on their own wealth of properties, they teamed with LEGO to provide something truly unique in LEGO Dimensions, and the scope reached beyond even what I had imagined with properties such as Back to the Future being a part of the initial offering. As weeks and months went by, even more were added, such as Jurassic World, Dr. Who, Ghostbusters, and even freaking Portal. It’s like nothing else, and hard not to get excited for.

In the aforementioned article, one source of inspiration I said they could tap was the Midway library they purchased. Recently, they revealed that Midway Arcade and The Simpsons would both be joining in, but there were no pictures to accompany this revelation — at least, until now.

ExpansionPack_Americas_BartFunPackExpansionPack_Americas_HomerLevelPackExpansionPack_Americas_KrustyFunPackExpansionPack_Americas_MidwayLevelPack

From the press release:

The Simpsons Level within the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack incorporates a cel-shaded art style, for a look that is true to the original, animated series and unique from the other levels within the game. Players will face an unlikely pair of evil masterminds in The Simpsons Level – Lord Business and The Joker – who have joined Lord Vortech’s legion of villains and invaded Springfield. It is up to our heroes to defeat them and restore order in The Simpsons world. For fans of The Simpsons that want to customize their LEGO Dimensions experience, a The Simpsons Level Pack which includes a LEGO Homer Simpson minifigure and The Simpsons Fun Packs which include a LEGO Bart Simpson minifigure and a LEGO Krusty the Clown minifigure were also announced. All of the characters, vehicles or gadgets from any of these expansion packs can be combined with any other characters, vehicles and gadgets that exist throughout the game, and can be played in any level, with any other entertainment property. Imagine the fun of Bart Simpson riding a Velociraptor in Metropolis.

While the inclusion of The Simpsons is cool and all (and we can only hope there will eventually be a set to build Homer’s dream car, “The Homer“), it’s no small secret that I’m a big fan of Midway. When the announcement was made, I’d already seen The Simpsons LEGOs before — I wanted to know what this set would entail.

The LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack contains a Midway Arcade level in which The Lord of the Rings‘ Gandalf and The LEGO Movie‘s Wyldstyle find themselves inside a video game, and “must race in Super Sprint, smash their way through hordes of enemies in Gauntlet, save astronauts in Defender, and defeat robots in Robotron.” If that wasn’t enough, the Midway Arcade Gamer Level Pack includes a Retro Gamer LEGO figure, the G-1655 vehicle from Spy Hunter (the Nintendo 3DS game was highly underrated, by the way), and a Defender arcade machine, as well as allowing you access to a level with 20 arcade games to beat.

Here’s the full infographic to break down who comes in what type of pack, and when:

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Unfortunately, while there is a Midway level in the Starter Pack launching on September 27th, the Midway Arcade level pack won’t be available until March 15th, 2016. Gadzooks, that’s a long wait!

The Simpsons fans are lucky — besides being part of the Starter Pack, Homer is part of the first wave that launches alongside it, while Bart and Krusty come just over a month later. Oh well, at least I’ve got Back to the Future in that same first wave.

In the meantime, here are some nice screens for you to to drool over:

To reiterate, LEGO Dimensions will be available for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Wii U on September 27th, 2015. To keep up to date with all the latest happenings in LEGO Dimensions, you can follow them on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Contributed by Allen Rivera

While online multiplayer has existed in different ways over the past 20 years or so, it’s only more recently really taken hold of the console market. Basically, if there’s a way to include online options in a game, the developer is going to take advantage of that fact. This can lead to things as small as sharing photos and high scores from Super Mario 3D World to something more grand like taking on opponents the world over in Mario Kart 8. And it’s in really digging into the latter’s online multiplayer that led me to thinking about something: Nintendo has really gotten it right in this field.

To be blunt, a big reason for my patting Nintendo on its back has to do with not being forced to pay any money to play online. Their competitors, as you may know, ask you to pay a monthly fee to take advantage of their online networks. And to be fair to both Sony and Microsoft, subscribing to their networks has some sweet perks, such as free game downloads. Also, they do have more titles (read: first-person shooters like Destiny) that make sense when it comes to playing online against or with other players.

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Aside from the online options being free, Nintendo also seems to know what it’s doing by cutting out the nonsense that can come with playing against strangers on the Internet. That nonsense, of course, typically comes in the manner of name-calling, harassment, and overall awful behavior. This is not always the case, as gamers apparently have started self-regulating themselves when it comes to bigotry, according to The Daily Mail. Still, there’s another way to cut that out of games, at least in a vocal sense, and it’s simply eliminating the need/use of voice chat. This obviously cannot be done across the board, because some titles require you to speak with others to take on the mission at hand. However, you can minimize its use by simply removing it from certain titles.

In doing this, it’s understandable that some would think that the online community would suffer. This doesn’t need to be the case, though, and it’s been proven elsewhere that communities can prosper through simpler means. All you need, really, is a good moderating staff to ensure that those who cross the line will be dealt with in a reasonable fashion. And if the staff is friendly, that can result in creating a more welcoming atmosphere for the players involved. This is evident in the community-centric approach of online platform betfair bingo, where players are encouraged to interact with the game’s host/moderator and other players. Considering you can find thousands of people playing on the site at any given time—several thousand as of this writing—you have to imagine they’re doing something right.

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The lack of voice chat on the Wii U may soon change, though. As noted by Nintendo Life, the superb Super Smash Bros. for Wii U could have options for actually talking to other players in the near future. Whether this will come about as an update or through downloadable content remains to be seen.

What do you think about Nintendo’s approach to online multiplayer? Do you feel they’re doing the right thing by keeping it simple or should they begin implementing voice chat in their games?

Some months back, I reviewed Retro City Rampage DX, a “top to bottom reworking” of the original Retro City Rampage that was released on the Nintendo 3DS. As noted there, I’m not normally into the open world crime genre, but this one actually managed to hook me in a way that games such as Grand Theft Auto have not.

Now the time has come for that love to be shared across virtually any non-mobile platform you can think of. The DX version is now available for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita with a triple cross-buy feature, while Steam users can enjoy a double cross-buy for PC and Macintosh. Meanwhile, the WiiWare version (which can be played in the Wii Mode of the Wii U console) has also been updated, and the Xbox 360 will receive its update later this month.

Fun fact: According to Vancouver developer Vblank Entertainment, there was also a limited edition retail version made for the PlayStation 4, but it sold out in one day.

To see what’s new in this version of the game, check out the following trailer:

Following are more platform-specific details:

PlayStation Users

The PS4, PS3 and PS Vita versions of ‘DX’ all sold together as one, 3X Cross Buy! With the 20% OFF PlayStation Plus launch week discount, you’ll get all three for $7.99 ($9.99 without Plus). That’s only around $3 for each platform, and much less than the original RCR’s $14.99 launch price! Owners of the original Retro City Rampage for PS3 and PS Vita can transfer their save games
to the new ‘DX’ version via Cross-Save. The new ‘DX’ version is a separate purchase, but keep in mind that with ‘DX’, you’re getting the PS4 version, a brand new Trophy set and new leaderboards. Owners of the original ‘RCR’ who transfer their save game to ‘DX’ will also earn a shiny elite star next to their score to show off on the leaderboards.

LAST CALL! The original ‘Retro City Rampage’ will be delisted from the PS Store and replaced with ‘Retro City Rampage: DX’ in order to avoid customer confusion. While ‘DX’ includes a mode to play the original ‘RCR’, if for some reason you would prefer the pure original, grab it before it’s too late. If you already own the original ‘RCR’, you not be affected by this. You will still be able to re-download it indefinitely, at any time. The delisting will only prevent new purchases.

PC/MacUsers

‘Retro City Rampage: DX’ will be a free update for owners of the original ‘RCR’ on PC/Steam/Humble Store. The PC and upcoming Mac versions are Cross Buy. The Mac version will be available for free to all who purchase or have purchased the PC version, and vice versa. Steam updates are automatic by default, but DRM-Free customers will need to login to their download page to grab it when it’s available.

Xbox 360 Users

‘Retro City Rampage: DX’ will be a free update for owners of the original version on Xbox 360, with all the HD bells and whistles! The only things missing are the remastered screen borders, due to Title Update size restrictions. It still contains the new borders though!

Note: This also marks the debut on Xbox 360 in Australia and New Zealand!

WiiWare Users

‘Retro City Rampage: DX’ will be a free update for owners of the original version on WiiWare. I greatly thank those loyal few of you who’ve showed your support by purchasing RCR on your Wii and Wii U consoles in ‘Wii mode’. This update makes the WiiWare version on par with the other systems, only missing HD video filters and zoom modes. It supports the Wii Remote, Classic Controller and Game Cube Controller, with an optional ‘shake’ gesture exclusive to the Wii Remote.

Note: This also marks the debut on WiiWare in Australia and New Zealand!

Nintendo 3DS Users

‘Retro City Rampage: DX’ is already available for Nintendo 3DS, but don’t worry! You’re not forgotten! Remember that an update will be coming alongside the *new* 3DS which adds support for the new buttons! I have no idea when that will be since the North American/European release date for the system hasn’t been announced, but it’s coming!

Quite a bit has happened since the last time we talked about WWE 2K15.

First up is the announcement of WWE 2K15‘s Downloadable Content program: “The content offering will include three new storylines playable in 2K Showcase, the game’s story-driven, single-player campaign, as well as access to new moves and a wealth of playable WWE, WCW, and NXT Superstars. In addition, WWE Diva Paige will be available as an exclusive playable character for those who purchase the game’s Season Pass.” The individual content packages will start being released in 2014 with others coming in 2015.

“Having grown up playing WWE games, it’s an honor to be included in WWE 2K15,” said Paige. “Fans will not want to miss out on my debut, as well as the new stories featured through 2K Showcase.”

So, what’s on offer? Glad you asked:

The WWE 2K15 downloadable content program is scheduled to include the following items and be available for purchase on the PlayStation®Network for the PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 systems, as well as Xbox Live online entertainment network from Microsoft for Xbox One and Xbox 360:

Accelerator

  • Players will gain instant access to all unlockable content available in the game (excluding downloadable content);
  • The Accelerator will be available for a suggested price of $1.99.

2K Showcase: One More Match

  • Story focused on the rivalry between WWE Superstars Randy Orton and Christian in 2011;
  • Playable WWE Superstars: Christian, Randy Orton, Edge, Mark Henry and Sheamus;
  • Playable arenas from 2011: SmackDown®, Extreme Rules®, Over the Limit® and Capitol Punishment®;
  • 2K Showcase: One More Match will be available for a suggested price of $9.99.

2K Showcase: Hall of Pain

  • Story focused on top matches for WWE Superstar Mark Henry;
  • Playable WWE Superstars: Mark Henry, Big Show, Kane, Jey Uso, Jimmy Uso, Sheamus, The Great Khali, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan and Ryback;
  • Playable arenas: SmackDown (2011), Vengeance® (2011) and WrestleMania® 29;
  • 2K Showcase: Hall of Pain will be available for a suggested price of $9.99.

2K Showcase: Path of the Warrior

  • Story focused on the career of WWE Hall of Famer Ultimate Warrior;
  • Playable WWE Hall of Famers: Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant and Sgt. Slaughter;
  • Playable WWE Legends: Honky Tonk Man, Rick Rude, Macho King and Colonel Mustafa;
  • Playable WWE Superstars: Undertaker and Hunter Hearst Helmsley;
  • Access to WWE Hall of Fame ring announcer Howard Finkel and WWE managers Jimmy Hart, Bobby Heenan, Paul Bearer, Sherri, Sid Justice and General Adnan;
  • Playable arenas: WrestleMania VI, VII and XII; SummerSlam® (1988, 1990 and 1991); Saturday Night’s Main Event XXIV and Madison Square Garden®;
  • 2K Showcase: Path of the Warrior will be available for a suggested price of $9.99.

WCW Pack

  • Playable WCW Superstars: Fit Finlay, Lord Steven Regal, Bam Bam Bigelow, Diamond Dallas Page and Lex Luger;
  • The WCW Pack will be available for a suggested price of $7.99.

NXT Arrival

  • Playable NXT Superstars: JBL, Adam Rose and The Ascension (Konnor and Victor);
  • Playable NXT Diva: Emma;
  • NXT Arrival will be available for a suggested price of $6.99.

New Moves Pack

  • Moves Pack: More than 30 new moves, including an alternate version of Sister Abigail (performed from the ring corner and made popular by Bray Wyatt) and Multiple Gut Wrenches (made popular by Cesaro);
  • The New Moves Pack will be available for a suggested price of $3.99.

As for the Season Pass…

Players may purchase select WWE 2K15 downloadable content at a reduced price point through the game’s Season Pass program. For a one-time suggested purchase price of $24.99, a savings of more than 20 percent versus individual content purchases, players will receive the following items as they become available:

  • Access to exclusive playable WWE Diva Paige;
  • Accelerator (access to all unlockable content available in the game);
  • Access to all three 2K Showcase stories (One More Match, Hall of Pain and Path of the Warrior).

In other WWE 2K15 news, 2K has announced that none other than John Cena has personally curated the soundtrack for the game, with the “companion soundtrack” available for pre-order on iTunes before its release at all digital retailers on Tuesday, October 21st. “Personally curated by cover Superstar and music enthusiast, John Cena, the soundtrack will feature 12 unique tracks from established and rising artists that transcend several music genres, including hip-hop, rock and country.”

“The WWE 2K15 companion soundtrack album also features two exclusive bonus tracks – “All Day” and “Breaks” – from Cena in collaboration with hip-hop magnate Wiz Khalifa,” and all pre-orders of the companion soundtrack album receive an instant download of both songs.

“As the WWE 2K15 cover Superstar, curating the in-game soundtrack and working with Wiz Khalifa were great opportunities to further the musical brand as we do across all WWE programming,” said John Cena. “Reaching across many genres of music to some of my friends and those who have worked with WWE, I truly believe that gamers will become avid listeners of these songs.”

“I have been a WWE fan since I was a kid, and getting to work with John Cena was an awesome experience,” said Wiz Khalifa. “I’m proud of this collaboration.”

The companion soundtrack contains the following tracks:

  • Wiz Khalifa & John Cena – “All Day”**
  • B.o.B – “Ready” (Feat. Future)
  • Rudimental – “Free” (Feat. Emeli Sandé & Nas)
  • Wiz Khalifa – “We Dem Boyz”
  • Flo Rida – “Wild Ones” (Feat. Sia) [WrestleMania 28 Version]
  • Knife Party – “Bonfire”
  • Big Smo – “Workin’” (Feat. Alexander King)
  • Mystery Skulls – “Ghost”
  • Royal Blood – “Come On Over”
  • Wiz Khalifa & John Cena – “Breaks”**
** Companion soundtrack exclusive

Additionally, the WWE 2K15 in-game soundtrack includes:

  1. Avenged Sevenfold – “This Means War”
  2. Dizzee Rascal – “Heart Of A Warrior” (Feat. Teddy Sky)
  3. Florida Georgia Line – “This Is How We Roll” (Feat. Luke Bryan)
  4. Rise Against – “Zero Visibility”

Finally, 2K has released the second episode of “The Making of WWE 2K15,” (I guess I missed the announcement of the first part) which– as the name implies– goes behind the scenes of the game’s development. “The second installment in the series, titled “The Game Has Changed,” features WWE Superstar Cesaro, along with NXT Superstars Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn, performing their signature moves in the motion capture ring. Complementing their efforts, Executive Producer Mark Little, Art Director Lynell Jinks and Senior Designer Bryan Williams discuss their vision for key gameplay changes, including controls, match pacing and camera positions.”

You can check both parts out here:

The ESRB has rated WWE 2K15 T for Teen, and the game is scheduled to be released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 28th, 2014 in North America and October 31st, 2014 internationally. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions are currently scheduled for release on November 18th, 2014 in North America and November 21st, 2014 internationally. Fans who pre-order WWE 2K15 at any participating retailer will receive two playable Sting characters (classic and Crow) for free when the game launches.

Following last night’s airing of the roster reveal on WWE Network (it was recorded at SummerSlam, but still fun to watch if you missed the Twitch stream), 2K has released the first gameplay trailer for WWE 2K15.

For those wondering, that picture of Bray Wyatt above? Yes, that’s from the trailer.

Check it out here:

Incidentally, it’s never specified whether this is from the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version (coming October 28th) or the recently-delayed Xbox One/PlayStation 4 version (coming November 18th).

The second part of the roster reveal will air next Monday, September 29th, presumably after Monday Night Raw once again. 2K would also like to remind everyone that those who pre-order get an extra character in the form of the icon Sting, both in his classic neon and black-and-white Crow colors. That seems like a pretty good incentive to me, but then I find it hard to dislike Sting.

For more on WWE 2K15 from 2K, you can visit the the official website, Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to them on YouTube.

If you’re dying to step into the ring and electrify the millions (and millions) of WWE fans in the latest iteration of the long-running hit video game series… well, you just might have to wait a little bit longer.

2K recently announced that while the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of WWE 2K15, the first WWE game to be fully designed under the company’s watch after acquiring the brand from THQ, then the good news is that release is still on track for an October 28th, 2014 release in North America (with international releases coming on the 31st, for those interested). The next generation console versions for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, however, have been pushed back a few weeks until November 18th, 2014 (November 21st internationally).

“Visual Concepts and Yuke’s are committed to delivering the most authentic and action-packed WWE experience to date, including release for the very first time on next-generation consoles,” said Visual Concepts president Greg Thomas. “The additional development time enables our talented teams to ensure the WWE 2K15 next-gen experience fully meets our expectations.”

Interestingly enough, be it by intentional design or because they feel they can’t wait any longer than that, November 18th places the next-gen release square in the “big release” timeframe for video games, just ten days before the infamous “Black Friday” shopping day following Thanksgiving in the United States. So Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and Sting are going to be throwing down directly against some of the holidays’ biggest hitters, such as Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Super Smash Bros., and more.

On a related note, 2K and WWE joined together to present a panel back in August to reveal the roster for the new title. Hosted by WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Canada’s own WWE broadcaster Renee Young (nee Paquette), the candid discussion was joined by WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan, WWE 2K15 cover Superstar John Cena, WWE Superstars Roman Reigns, Cesaro, and Sheamus, and the iconic competitor, Sting.

“In addition to the WWE 2K15 roster reveal,” says the press release, “panelists opened up to discuss a variety of topics, ranging from their thoughts on their likenesses in WWE 2K15 to comments on their career with WWE.”

Tonight, the panel will be presented immediately after WWE Monday Night Raw in the first of two 30-minute parts, with the second to air on Monday, September 29th, both on the WWE Network.

For more on WWE 2K15 from 2K, you can visit the the official website, Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to them on YouTube.

Fan-Expo-SaleAfter a week and a half away, I’m back! And no worries about further absences for the time being– I think all my vacation days are used up for the next while, so expect your regular Mario’s Hat programming and reviews to begin coming through once again.

Kicking things off, I’ve received a hot tip from Roto13 that Sony has announced on its PlayStation.Blog that they are celebrating games made in Canada with their FanExpo sale, which begins Tuesday, August 20th. Everyone has a chance to get up to 50 percent off, but PlayStation Plus members will have the opportunity to save up to 75 percent on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita titles shown below.

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playstation4Whoops, forgot to post this one after I finished it late (early?) yesterday morning. Following my thoughts on Microsoft’s 2013 E3 press conference, you can now see what I think of Sony’s. Put simply: They knocked it out of the park, and look like they’re ready to leave the Xbox One in the dust.

Stay tuned, as I have news from Nintendo coming up, as well as my own impressions of their E3 Nintendo Direct.

PSN-logo2It was recently announced that a settlement has been reached in the May 2011 class action lawsuit filed by Canadian citizen Natasha Maksimovic against Sony Computer Entertainment over the breach of security and potential exposure of user data brought on by the hacking of the PlayStation Network. Despite reaching an agreement, however, it must still be approved by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, which will hold a hearing regarding the matter on June 10th, 2013.

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I meant to get this one up yesterday, but in any case: If you’re interested in supporting the efforts of independent game developers from Canada, then you might be interested to know that the Toronto-based DrinkBox Studios has just released their newest title, Guacamelee! However, if you don’t own a PlayStation 3 or a PlayStation Vita, then your interest may wane a bit, as the game is exclusive to those two platforms.

This Metroidvania-styled game is available as a Cross-Buy for both platforms at a price of $14.99, and features same-screen multiplayer, a melee combat style (as the name suggests), and even a dimension-hopping mechanic. As you can see in the trailer above, it’s been receiving rave reviews.

To learn more about Guacamelee!, be sure to visit the official website.

Some of you may remember that a couple of months ago, we got our first peek at NASCAR racer Danica Patrick’s in-game appearance in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, and with it, a look at a GameStop-exclusive promotion to receive a free Hot Wheels “Danicar” die-cast toy with the purchase.

Fast-forward about a month and some change to the game’s launch on November 18th, and if you picked up a copy of the game, you might have noticed something: No Danicar toy. It had been confirmed to me by SEGA that Canada would be included in the promotion, so perhaps it was cancelled?

As it turns out, not at all.

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One of the worst-kept secrets around here is how excited I am about Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed; just one look at the tag shows that it has some of the most extensive coverage of any single game on the site (as well as a few articles over at PoisonMushroom.Org). And when I found out that Steve Lycett, Producer at Transformed developer Sumo Digital, was doing interviews with different websites (such as this one at TSSZ News), I leaped at the chance to do one of my own. And, to my delight, he accepted!

Before we get started, however, a little background: While I’ve played the original Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing a lot (it’s one of my all-time favorite games), at the time this interview was written, I had not played Transformed at all yet. I’m still waiting on my review copy from SEGA (shipping to Canada can take a while, I’ve learned) as I make this post, but between sending these questions off and now, I have had a chance to sit down with the Xbox 360 demo and watch people talk about it on the Wii U’s Miiverse.

Though I am working on several reviews together, once this game comes in, I’ll definitely make it a priority and give you my full thoughts on it. But for now, please enjoy this post-release interview with the game’s Producer, Steve Lycett.

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